Toronto’s most upscale neighbourhood is home to the best high-end shopping, dining, and relaxation in the city. Though you can get there via subway, for the full Yorkville experience, it’s best to arrive by taxi, sports car, or limousine.
Start by soaking up the luxurious vibe on the patio at celebrity chef Mark McEwan’s ONE Restaurant on Yorkville Avenue. To get an authentic taste of the city, order The Six, a refreshing cocktail with tequila, Aperol, grapefruit, and pomegranate syrup. If you’re a hip-hop fan, you might recognize the drink’s name as a song title—and if you’re a lucky hip-hop fan, you might even see the artist who inspired the drink here sipping on one. But ONE Restaurant isn’t just a great people-watching spot, it also has one of the most decadent menu of bar snacks you’ve ever seen. Toast your friends with an order of lobster spoons, served as six giant morsels in Chinese spoons filled with butter. There are also steak tartare, oysters, and truffle frites on offer. But you can’t leave without ordering the Boston cream donuts, baked fresh on the spot and served on a tabletop-sized wooden ottoman—a veritable donut throne.
Gelato Simply Italian
If it’s desserts you’re after, head to Gelato Simply Italian. Before coming to Toronto in 2010, owner Alessandro Buccianti ran a gelaterie in Rome, envisioning this parlour that now serves up 163 flavors. It’s hard to decide which one to take on the road. Should you grab a classic like stracciatella and pistachio, or a more innovative option like a rich Nutella-based gelato? Each flavor is worth tasting, but on a sunny stroll, you settle on the refreshing lime and cilantro.
There’s no shortage of designer shopping in the neighbourhood, either. You can browse international labels like Prada, Hermes, Burberry, and Kate Spade (they’re all within steps of one another), as well as Canadian retail icons Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew, and a distinguished selection of independent fashion boutiques. For a punch of colour, step inside Kumari’s on Bellair Street for a rainbow selection of pashminas, handmade jewellery, and exotic embroidered clothing that’s chic and sophisticated. It’s all inspired by Canadian designer Kumari Colson’s regular trips to Nepal, Italy, and Southeast Asia.
Four Seasons Hotel
The best place to relax before dinner is the serene spa at the Four Seasons Hotel. This luxury hotel is the only one in Canada to have received both a AAA Five Diamond Award and Forbes Five-Star rating, and it shows in its attention to detail and flawless service. The elegant, design-forward lobby lures your eye upward with soaring architecture that balances minimal, textural design with natural details in Canadian artwork. The porcelain and dark wood dandelion installation that hangs above the lobby desk foreshadows an emphasis on natural form found throughout the hotel’s spaces, including the spa. The 30,000-square-foot urban retreat is one of the largest spas in Toronto, but in line with the hotel’s aesthetic, maintains an intimate and calming atmosphere. With multiple spaces for relaxation before and after your treatment—including complimentary hot teas, coffee, and biscotti—you could easily spend a whole day here with all of your best friends.
Just steps from the Four Seasons’ main entrance is Buca Yorkville. You’ll need advance dinner reservations, as this is one of Toronto’s most popular restaurants. You’ll see why this classy coastal Italian restaurant is regarded by most as the best Italian eatery in town when you order the Branzino, a divine combination of raw Cyprian sea bass, prosecco, lemon, and an unfiltered olive oil from Sicily. The sea bass is filleted and thinly sliced tableside by a passionate Italian chef, a process that takes more time and care than you may have ever seen given to a meal.
You’d be remiss not to finish your trip to Yorkville with one of their signature cocktails, a Manhattan Siciliano or a Negroni alla Rosa; and for dessert, the Zeppole, a traditional baked donut with cinnamon, pistachio cream, and amarena cherries. A day in Yorkville is never enough, so book your stay at the boutique Saint James Hotel, centrally located for easy access to the whole city.